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Why aren't millennials buying houses? They can't afford it.

When the economy bounced back, millennial salary prospects didn't.

Why aren't millennials buying houses? They can't afford it.

Have you seen this guy?

Memes from here and here.


Friends, meet "Old Economy Steve."

On the Internet, Steve has become the judgmental, clueless baby-boomer embodiment of millennials' worst money-related frustrations.

Who is he, exactly? Well, Old Economy Steve knew how to pull himself up by his bootstraps. He graduated from college without student debt, immediately got a high-paying job, and plans to retire with a pension. He just can't understand why those lazy millennials are living with their parents and still unemployed. (Spoiler: Old Economy Steve is kind of a jerk.)

Of course, Old Economy Steve is really just the fictionalized version of millennial financial anxieties. (And, by the way, it seems like the real "Steve" in the photo is actually a down-to-earth guy). I'd like to think most boomers are a little more compassionate toward us young folk than he is, too, but his meme definitely reflects the discomfort that many millennials have with their money situations right now.

Well, then. Thanks, Google.

What do I mean by “millennial money situations?"

You've heard it all before, so sing along if you know the words: Millennials aren't buying houses, they're not buying cars, they're not saving for retirement, and sometimes they're not even moving out of their parents' basements.

Is all of this because millennials are lazy? Entitled? Coddled? Snake people? Poor planners?

Not quite. A lot of folks would argue that it's because millennials have no money (check out that point of view in an article from the New York Times earlier this year). Here are a few truth bombs that might explain what's going on:

1. Millennial wages aren't just frozen — they're actually shrinking.

Many millennials were either in college or about to graduate when the recession hit hard. Lots of employees across the U.S. were let go — not exactly the best economic climate when you're looking for your first job.

And while the economy bounced back, their salary prospects did not. As The Atlantic pointed out last year, average wages for young people have fallen by 10% in many industries since 2007. Add that to the fact that many millennials live in big cities with extremely high rents and high costs of living because that's where the jobs are.

Just to put it in perspective, the average male student graduating from college in 1979 made an hourly wage of $19.97 (adjusted for inflation). For 2010 graduates, the average hourly wage was $21.77 — down almost a dollar from 2000. And female graduates make even less than that. You can point that out to them when they ask why you're not planning on buying a house in your 20s.

So we're not getting paid as much as previous generations of young adults were getting paid, we live in places where it's not really feasible to buy a home, and of course…

2. Student loans eat up a hefty chunk of whatever income millennials have left.

The average student loan debt for the class of 2011 was $26,600. Most of those students are living under the shadow of that debt for years, sometimes even decades.

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Say hello to Sallie Mae (she's on the left.)

Experts posit that millennials are less likely to be homeowners than previous generations mostly because all of their cash is going toward paying off their debt. Most are unable to save.

But there's one more piece of information that might surprise you about millennials' finances:

3. We're finding ways to fix the problem.

I'm going to speak for my generation for a second here: Just because we're young, it doesn't mean we're lazy. We haven't given up yet. In fact, a lot of us are finding some really creative solutions to cope with the changing economy.

Like what? Like tiny houses. These little homes are inexpensive, energy-efficient, and quickly becoming a trend. And in the future, we might even see apartment-like buildings made of mobile “smart homes."

Tiny homes! Image from Guillaume Dutilh on Wikimedia Commons.

We're also being smarter about our health care costs, thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act. The uninsured rate for young folks is lower now than it's been since before 1997.

And we're putting pressure on our lawmakers to get real about paralyzing student loans. There's no reason interest rates on student debt should be so high, and some elected representatives and candidates are speaking up about it.

So, lazy? Entitled? Coddled? Snake people? Poor planners? Not quite.

Unable to keep their heads above water? That seems more like it. Admittedly, there's a lot of systemic work still to be done for millennials and their financial security. I'm in the thick of it with all the rest of you.

But there's also a lot that we're already doing — because just like every other generation, we want control over our futures.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."